Let's begin by saying that, in the age of being able to get anything from the Internet, there is no substitute for seeing something in person and getting advice from someone who knows. There are two features on the Brompton that one simply has to see to believe. I probably wouldn't have purchased them online. Today, I can't imagine life without them.
The first feature is the Shimano hub dynamo lighting system with Busch & Muller halogen head and tail lights. The front hub generates enough power to illuminate everything practically from the first pedal stroke. Ride for about three minutes and the back light will stay on for about five--plenty of time for stoplights. And it's really bright. Much brighter than the 3-AA battery-powered light that is sometimes on the Birdy (sometimes in my toolbox). I would compare the power to lights found on mopeds. No charging or changing batteries. Always on the bike. Always ready to go. Very little, if any, drag. As a confession, I have to say I have rarely used the lighting setup on the Birdy. It's unhandy and turning on the blinky light on the rear truly is a pain. As such, I've ridden less than safely. Those days are over. One switch and the Brommie lights are on, safely leading the way and alerting drivers to your presence. But best of all, you are generating power on your own. Take that wind and solar farms. I'm a one man power plant! If only I could use the hub to charge my phone... hmmm?
The second feature is the combination luggage block/C-Bag combination. The Brompton luggage system is based on a sturdy little luggage block attached to a boss on the head tube. This accepts an aluminum frame. It just clicks on. Brompton's various bags then velcro onto the rack. Click on, click off. This setup is truly magical. Week one of the ISWE Brompton experience included lugging equipment for a cancer study across campus--one bag containing two laptops and power supplies, another bag containing study materials. The whole thing probably weighed well over twenty-five pounds. Note: Swimbo was unable to lift the two-laptop-containing C-Bag today. Not that she's all that muscular, but it was heavy :) Clicked onto the bike the weight simply disappeared. Yes, the Brommie defied the laws of physics. No weight on the shoulder. No sweaty strap in the 100-degree heat. The bags just sat there on the luggage frame like they were nothing at all. There is simply no feeling quite like zipping along the sidewalks and streets of campus, transporting tons of stuff, as if you were just going out for a ride. It feels like your doing something illegal. People look at you like, "Hey, he can't do that! He can't carry all that stuff with no effort! Can he?" Yes I can. Zip!
Much to the delight of the ISWE staff, the rest of the week included several really fun rides around downtown Indianapolis. One day, I circumnavigated the Indianapolis Zoo to try to catch a glimpse of their new baby elephant. Another day, I rode through downtown Indianapolis, around Monument Circle, to the library and back. Two times, I rode the Canal. All of this, by the way, on my half-hour lunch break. Why eat when you can ride! The Monument Circle ride was the best. I can't say how many times I've traveled the same roads by car without ever noticing all of the the interesting details I saw from the Brommie. There's a lot of strange stuff down there, including war memorials with marble columns and golden eagles, some pretty large fountains, and a sculpture that looks a lot like a giant, little chocolate donut. And that's the beauty of small wheels. Even though it was a very hectic week, I was able to squeeze in several little urban adventures. Next week I'm going to get to see that baby elephant for sure! I'll be sure to forward a full report. Baby elephants are, after all, the small wheels of the elephant world.
Well, we passed up a discussion of the Al Inglis Invisibility Rule to bring you this report. We'll be sure to get back to it soon. Thanks for reading and remember: ISWE? We is!
For questions about Brompton bikes, don't hesitate to contact:
11700 Oak Tree Way
Carmel, IN 46032